A pink and green home in South London
Print designer Carol Maxwell’s home is filled with upcycled finds set against a harmonious backdrop of pinks and greens. Feature Ciara Elliott/Inside Features. Photographs Jemma Watts/Inside Features
Ask print designer Carol Maxwell about her favourite colours and it’s no surprise to learn that she’s a fan of green and pink. Not only are these shades very much in evidence throughout the elegant south London home she shares with her partner Tom and their sons Max and Milo, but pink and green are also part of the branding for Max Made Me, her online business and newly opened shop in Forest Hill.
Carol started her illustration business while on maternity leave with her son Max, and she chose a minty green and dusky pink as her trademark colours. She subsequently decorated her studio to echo this combination, using Farrow and Ball’s Arsenic on the ceiling and Calamine on the walls.
Gradually, the rest of the house has followed suit, and shades of pink and green are the dominant colours that run through every room in the house, from the newly refurbished family bathroom to the recently repainted kitchen, as well as the loft conversion, which was completed last summer.
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Originally from Wexford in Ireland, Carol says her fondness for the colour green is because it makes her feel connected to her Irish roots. ‘I’m always drawn back to greens of every kind. There are so many shades – and there’s always the right pink to match,’ she laughs. In the past, Carol’s approach to interior design was more of a ‘chuck everything in vibe’, she says, and their old flat was filled with an assortment of things from flea markets and junk shops, alongside family antiques.
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Over the years, however, she has pared it all back and her approach is more considered, although colour, pattern and ‘things that tell a story’, are still key. ‘I would like to think our house feels stylish but with a sophisticated, vibrant feel in the colour schemes, and a nod to times gone by,’ she says, explaining that they have been the lucky recipients of antiques and vintage pieces that have been passed on to them from Tom’s mother, who used to run an antiques business.
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The impressive studio space, which influenced the colour scheme that has become the hallmark of the house, also sparked a flurry of redecoration. Carol redesigned the family bathroom using a mixture of inexpensive and designer tiles, as well as upcycled and vintage finds. A splendid metal Charcier sign, which she bought in a secondhand shop, was the starting point for the whole scheme. She found the basin on eBay and the vanity unit was an Edwardian writing desk, which Carol painted and upcycled with a marble off-cut for the top.
In the guest bedroom, it was a pair of dramatically patterned vintage curtains that provided the jumping off point for the scheme. ‘I bought them years ago and wanted a colour to sit well with them, so grounded the walls in dark, dark blue.’ She showed her builder a picture of panelling on Pinterest and they were happy to create something similar in MDF. She’s delighted with the effect, ‘It’s a new room but the panelling adds such character,’ she says. The kitchen was given an inexpensive facelift as there are plans for an extension in the pipeline – cabinets were repainted, handles replaced, the worktop updated.
Upstairs, the couple have recently converted their unused loft space to create a really grown-up master bedroom with a boutique-hotel feel. Once again, green and pink abound, with stylish details including leafy wallpaper by House of Hackney, lighting by Spark & Bell, and a green velvet bed by Made.
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Carol’s father is a builder and she credits him with much of the work on the house. ‘He has also helped on our recent shop fit-out. After the loft was finished, my dad redesigned our entire back garden, patio and decking and garden house. He also tiled our front path, en-suite bathroom and hallway and, last summer, he came back and renovated the whole kitchen. I don’t know what I would do without him.’
So, what’s next on Carol’s to-do list for decorating the house? Has she finished now, or is there still more? ‘I’m actually about to start redecorating the double reception rooms at the front of the house,’ she laughs. ‘Those were the first rooms we tackled five years ago when we moved in and now that the boys are a bit bigger and most of their toys are now up in their own bedrooms I want to create a more sophisticated space here.’
So she’s poring over the latest Farrow & Ball heritage colour palette in search of a ‘really deep blue to pair with a deep, dirty pink on the ceiling’. The starting point for her moodboard was an oversized vintage hand-painted Japanese fan that she picked up from one of her favourite local stores, Farr & Wyde. ‘The overall feel is going to be dark and moody but really cosy and atmospheric,’ she says.
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